Nathan Harrison, 2019 Senior MGP winnerCoverage of the TT and MGP racing will not be included as part of the public broadcasting duties of Manx Radio.

Onchan MHK Rob Callister tabled an amendment to Treasury proposals for the station which would see it paid to continue to host the racing commentary and in doing so he criticised Manx Radio directors.

Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan had sought approval for three recommendations for Manx Radio including it remaining on Douglas Head, that the basic public service subvention be increased from £899,830 to a level of £995,000 plus CPI commencing April 1 2020 and that the current non-executive directors of Radio Manx Limited, together with Treasury and the Attorney General’s Chambers meet to agree the wording of a trust deed that would transfer ownership of the company to the trustees.

The order paper said this was ’in order to ensure delivery of the terms of the licence issued by the Communications Commission and other statutory obligations encompassing the delivery of quality public service broadcasting’.

However Mr Callister wanted to use the opportunity to put the issue of TT commentary to bed as well by combining the two issues.

He said that directors of Manx Radio had ’made a personal mistake’ and ’missed a trick’ by not seeking the alignment of Radio TT with its report.

And he went on to say that coverage of the events ’should be part of their public offering’.

Mr Callister added that saying the station shouldn’t do the TT ’would be like saying it shouldn’t do the Royal Show or Tynwald Day’. And he raised concerns that telling the more than 40,000 people who come to the TT that it wouldn’t be on Manx Radio would be ’difficult’.

Culture

His amendment gained the support of Minister for Enterprise Laurence Skelly who said that TT is ’part of the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture’ and that he feels Manx Radio is too.

Mr Skelly also noted the changed format of the TT format that generates more money by ’aligning interests’ of organisers.

This year’s late decision to award the contract to Manx Radio was controversial.

Taxpayers paid about £113,000 for the coverage in 2019 which also saw the end of all Manx Radio TT branding and the end of it being able to sell its own advertising on Radio TT.

And the commentary and race coverage could carry only an hourly announcement that said ’this service is provided by Manx Radio’.

However, Mr Callister failed to receive much other support in Tynwald. Bill Shimmins (Middle) said the idea was ’dangerous’.

And he referred back to the previous debate on public service broadcasting where members had agreed against any political interference in the freedom of the press and media.

Mr Shimmins added: ’It is so dangerous if politicians start telling the PSM (public service media) provider what they do.

’And now we find literally 10 minutes later from that debate that the member responsible for motorsport is saying to the PSM provider “you must do this and not only must you do it, you must do it within this amount of cash”.

Mr Cannan said that the plan had ’no Treasury concurrence’ and was ’slightly bizarre’.

Mr Callister’s amendment was defeated with only two MHKs supporting it and no MLCs. Members did however vote to increase Manx Radio’s annual subsidy from almost £900,000 to £995,000.

It will rise each year in line with CPI but thanks to an amendment by Lawrie Hooper (Lib Vannin, Ramsey) it will be reviewed in three years’ time.

Source: IoMToday